My friend Victoria is in a predicament: her girlfriend really wants to be punched, slapped, and strangled during sex and Victoria can’t bring herself to do it. She’s dabbled into pain and punching in past relationships, but this time it’s different—this time it’s love.
Ah l’amour, how quickly it can ruin sex. One minute you’re screwing a ball-gagged stranger, and the next you can’t do anything but cuddle. Love causes insecurities. Love causes attachments. Love causes you to be overbearing and protective.
When you love someone, there’s so much more at stake, so I get why Victoria would be trepidatious. I can see why there is, as she put it, “some mental block where I see her cute face, and it stops my hitting hand right in its tracks.”
Inflicting pain upon the people we love goes against our natural inclination to protect them from harm. Additionally, violence against women is sadly prevalent in our culture and, as a woman, I can see why Victoria would be extra sensitive to the consequences of bringing physical violence into any part of their relationship.
I get why it’s hard for Victoria and the other people—there’ve been over 20 I can think of off the top of my head—who have come to me with this same problem. I get it. Hitting someone you love can be difficult. But I’m here to tell you that, even as a radical feminist, it’s OK to hit your girlfriend.
It is acceptable to strangle her until she taps out.
It’s perfectly fine to smack her until she’s red, bruised, possibly even bleeding.
You can do all of this because she asked you to—because it’s consensual. Let go of guilt and judgment over sexual desire and embrace exploration. Playing with pain and power in a healthy, happy way can bring you closer together as a couple.
Hit her because you love her, not in spite of it.
Before this column goes any further, let me say this: don’t ever fucking hit someone unless there is express consent to do so and you have prenegotiated the terms of your dynamic. Detailed communication is key. Informed consent is vital. Respect others’ boundaries, don’t be an abusive asshole, and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline if you have any questions about abuse. I called them, and they’re totally OK with talking about BDSM.
There are safe ways to push people’s boundaries and consensual ways to explore, grow, and learn. Working through fear is paramount to living a fulfilled life, and BDSM practices—including punching, slapping, and choking—can help people work through their natural inclinations to panic when presented with an agitating situation.
Beyond working through fear, there are millions of reasons someone would want to be hit during sex, just as there are millions of reasons someone would prefer missionary over doggy style, anal over vaginal penetration, or puppies over kittens.
Me, I’m a cowgirl style, vaginal, baby goat person myself, and I love to hit someone as I’m fucking them.
It started small, a little love pat on the cheek of my ex-girlfriend, Barb—I saw a look of excitement on her face and heard her plea to do it again, this time harder. Soon it was routine for me to slap her, building in intensity as my orgasm rose within me, matching her pain to my pleasure. Then I started slapping her as she came, flicking, biting, hitting, pinching, punching, fucking her all at once until her whole body felt it, felt me.
It was intense and intimate in a way sex had never been before for me, and we both loved it. I was immediately addicted, and now I love nothing more than tying someone down, straddling their strap-on, and slapping them as I ride.
In our male-dominated society, being penetrated often comes with the connotation that you’ve lost power, degraded yourself, given in to the person penetrating you. While my logical brain does not buy into this idea of degradation through penetration, there’s a not-so-subconscious part of me that enjoys taking back the power that I lose in this culture for having a vagina and liking to have things inside of it.
For me, taking control while being penetrated (sometimes called “topping from the bottom”) allows me to scream, “Yes, you are inside of me, and yes, I’m in a traditionally vulnerable state, but let’s not forget who’s in charge here.” Smack! My hand across your face. “I am using you. You are not using me. I am in control of my pleasure and your pain. I am not doing this for you, I am doing it all for me. You are taking me in no way. I am taking you in every way.” Smack! My hand across your face.
It’s raw and empowering and I love it for that, but there is so much more to it than just power. I can take power in multiple ways but nothing arouses me like slapping someone.
In relationships, I have always been the hitter, not the person hit. Every time someone has asked if they could hit me on my face, I’ve declined their request. Slap my ass, bite my nipples, flog my back, but leave my face alone. I am just not there yet.
To help me explain slapping from the bottom’s viewpoint, I got in touch with my ex, Barb. We just started texting again recently, so it was a little awkward asking this of her, but I needed to know, both for the article and, honestly, for myself as well.
Me: My friend’s girlfriend wants to be hit, but my friend is not comfortable with that. I’m trying to give her advice and need some input. Do you mind if I ask, why were you OK with me slapping you during sex?
Barb: Because I gave consent. Because I wanted you to.
Me: So consent and desire are the reason you enjoyed being slapped?
Barb: Yes, I’d say so. I think, though, that it’s just as important for the person slapping to have consent as the person being slapped. Sex isn’t a chore or an obligation. Sometimes there are boundaries that keep one partner from getting what they want. The point is pleasure for all, not just one.
Shit, here I am telling Victoria to push through and hit her girlfriend for the girlfriend’s sake, and I’ve all but forgotten about addressing Victoria’s right to consent to the situation as well.
I do that sometimes. I assume the only person requiring consent is the bottom, the one being hurt, penetrated, beaten, etc. I forget the importance of taking care of the top. Maybe because I’m usually a top in these situations, and I just take care of myself. Whatever it is, Barb brought up a really good issue: it’s no fun unless both parties consent.
By definition, domestic violence is “a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship,” which also could easily describe relationships that involve BDSM. The difference between healthy perversion and unhealthy abuse lies in consent and communication.
For slapping, strangling, and punching to be fun, both Victoria and her girlfriend need to be into it. Because Victoria has been into it before, I figure there’s a mental hesitation beyond simply being against the act itself, but even with experience, knowledge is key to consent.
I let specific people in BDSM dungeons hit me because they do it all the time and are highly educated on where and how to make the physical and emotional impact I’ve told them I want them to have on me. None of my romantic partners have had that same knowledge, so, as the informed one, I have taken control and led the BDSM in my bedroom.
The best thing anybody looking to get into any kind of BDSM play can do is get educated and start slowly, working within your knowledge base and comfort level. Try a cupped palm, arched so it’s less painful, but the impact is still felt, on the buttocks, legs, or upper arms. Keep to one location at first and move to others over multiple sessions. Work from larger body parts to smaller ones, ending at the face, where you need to be careful of bruising and breaking its delicate parts.
Know your partner's physical and mental limits, and constantly check in before, during, and after to see what you can do to make the situation safe and comfortable for all parties involved.
The above advice came from a conversation I had with Bikkja Amy, a friend of mine who lives the BDSM lifestyle 24/7 and educates others about safety and communication. While I had her on the phone, I figured I’d ask her why she liked getting hit.
Me: What do you feel when someone hits or slaps you?
Bikkja Amy: It makes my nipples hard. I feel it in my girl parts.
Me: But why? What makes you like it?
Bikkja Amy: I have lupus, so being lightly caressed physically hurts. I need strong contact, and being hit is as strong as it gets. I like the bruises, remembering the next day how I got my painful memento. The pain extends the moment.
Another friend, Lady Leaux, expanded on the psychological aspect of it all.
Me:What do you think when someone hits you?
Lady Leaux: I imagine this is all some psychological thing, but sometimes casual sex makes me feel like I'm being used, so why not embrace the transactional nature of it? It's nice to feel like someone's plaything. It's also nice to know you can trust someone to make you feel like shit. I think I would dislike being slapped if I were with a lover who did not respect me outside of the bedroom. Even when you tell someone to slap you and call you worthless, you're still in charge.
Even after talking with them, I wanted to know WHY. Why does slapping and hitting make me so damn turned on? Why did my ex get that look in her eyes like she was going to explode with pleasure every time my hand came down on her cheek?
Then Barb explained it all in one simple word: adrenaline.
Adrenaline! That’s the exact answer I’ve been looking for. It’s so obvious, I feel like a fool for not thinking of it before.
Why did throwing my hand back and letting it land on her face increase pleasure in my groin? Why did Barb’s whole body burst in arousal when I only hit her face? Because we were high on what Barb referred to as “the drug of choice for 90 percent of Americans.”
I had actually been reading about adrenaline only hours earlier, so it especially shocked me that I didn’t think of it before. In her book, Urban Tantra, Barbara Carrellas explains that “an adrenaline rush is a… feeling of power, of being ‘on the edge,’ of everything being sharp and intense. Adrenaline… is released from your adrenal glands in relative proportion to the level of ‘danger’ your brain perceives [and] produces arousal effects ranging from excitement to anxiety to fear.”
She goes on to brilliantly explain the difference between true ecstasy and an adrenaline rush in a way I cannot even begin to paraphrase, so go buy the book for that. For now, just know that slapping, hitting, punching—all those painful things that get people off—are arousing because your ancestors needed to run from saber-toothed tigers.
So, Victoria and everyone else out there looking to learn how to respectfully hit the ones they love, the solution to your problem is consent, education, communication, patience, and maybe a few saber-toothed tigers.
Photos by J. Robert Williams. Models: Cat Dorris, Xhibitchionist, Taylor Grahm, Ayuni Kelton and Michelle Martinez